IVERMORE, Calif. (AP) -- The scientists who crack open the nation's nuclear weapons for a living are never quite sure what they will find inside.[SNIP]
Many of the warheads were designed and built 40 years ago, and their plutonium and other components are slowly breaking down in ways that researchers do not fully understand. With no new bombs in production, the government spends billions of dollars each year tending to its aging stockpile.
The Bush administration wants to revamp the entire arsenal with a weapon now on the drawing board named the Reliable Replacement Warhead.
The redesigned weapon is needed to ensure "a safe, secure, reliable and effective nuclear deterrent for the indefinite future," said Linton Brooks, chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The government and the labs refuse to discuss details of the two designs, citing national security. But they describe both proposals as "conservative" blueprints meant to assure reliability without violating a moratorium on full-scale nuclear testing in place since 1992. (emphases added)C'mon, Howell Raines...get on the ball!
People are counting on you!
(Filed under the fifth column)